Jensen v. West Jordan City et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part 409 Motion to Supplement Award of Attorneys' Fees. Mr. Jensen is hereby awarded $17,178.85 for the work conducted by Heideman & Associates, and is also awarded an additional $19,038.00 for Ms. Hollingsworth's post-trial briefing. Signed by Judge Dale A. Kimball on 12/7/2017. (eat)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
Case No. 2:12-cv-736-DAK
WEST JORDAN CITY, a Utah municipal
District Judge Dale A. Kimball
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Aaron Jensen’s Supplemental Motion for
Attorney Fees. On July 19, 2017, Mr. Jensen filed a motion for attorney’s fees. (Dkt. No. 366).
On October 13, 2017, the court granted Mr. Jensen’s motion in part by awarding the following
attorneys’ fees: $147,402 for Ms. Hollingsworth; $44,210.45 for Ms. Beaton; $82,887.97 for Ms.
Leonard; $26,620 for Mr. Hubbard; and $6,403.75 for Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC. (Dkt. No.
407). The court awarded Mr. Jensen a total of $307,524.17 in attorneys’ fees. Id.
Mr. Jensen seeks to supplement his prior motion for attorneys’ fees by: (1) requesting
fees for Mr. Jensen’s first attorneys in this litigation, Heideman & Associates; (2) requesting fees
for bringing and responding to the post-trial motions; and (3) asserting that Ms. Hollingsworth
and Ms. Beaton should have been awarded a higher billable hour rate than what was ordered by
(1) Attorneys’ Fees Pertaining to Heideman & Associates
Mr. Jensen seeks an additional award of $17,583.85 for attorneys’ fees billed by
Heideman & Associates. Heideman & Associates initially filed this lawsuit, and was counsel on
the case until January 2015, when Hollingsworth Law Office replaced the firm as counsel. The
attorneys at Heideman & Associates who worked on this case and their requested fees are as
follows: Tony Jewkes – law clerk, billed at $95/hour; Justin Heideman – attorney, $200/hour;
Josh Horrocks – attorney, $195/hour; Brad Weber – attorney, $200/hour; Wendy Poulsen –
pearalegal, $95/hour; Jed Strong – attorney, $185/hour; Christina Cope – paralegal, $95/hour;
James Jackson – law clerk, $95/hour; Catherine Shrier – legal assistant, $95/hour; Jenn Cole –
legal assistant, $95/hour; and Bri Beck – legal assistant, $95/hour. The time entries for the hours
billed is attached as Exhibit 1.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(2)(B) provides that a motion for attorneys’ fees must “be filed no
later than 14 days after the entry of judgment.” Defendant West Jordan City (WJC) argues that
the motion for attorneys’ fees as it relates to Heideman & Associates is untimely because Mr.
Jensen failed to include these fees in his initial motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(a) defines “Judgment”
as “any order from which an appeal lies.” The purpose of the 14 day provision “is to assure that
the opposing party is informed of the claim before the time for appeal has elapsed.” See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 54(d) Advisory Committee’s Notes.
In Mr. Jensen’s reply to his original motion for attorneys’ fees he states that he “intends
to supplement his initial motion for fees when final judgment is entered, to include fees due to
his original attorney in this matter, Justin Heideman…, and fees associated with the postjudgment pleadings.” (Reply in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees; Dkt. No. 395).
Because this supplemental motion was filed within 14 days of the court’s order ruling on the
post-trial motions, and because opposing counsel was informed that such motion would be filed
after the disposition of the post-trial motions, Mr. Jensen’s supplementation is timely.
As to the amount of attorneys’ fees to award, WJC argues that the fees should be
adjusted. Specifically, WJC argues that several of the time entries involve tasks that are
administrative in nature, the fees charged have not been demonstrated to be reasonable, and
several of the time entries are so vague that it is impossible to determine what task was being
The prevailing party in a case “bear[s] the burden ‘to prove and establish the
reasonableness of each dollar, each hour, above zero.” David C. v. Leavitt, 900 F. Supp. 1547,
1555 (D. Utah 1995) (quoting Mares v. Credit Bureau of Raton, 801 F.2d 1197, 1219 (10th Cir.
1986)). “[T]he first step in calculating fee awards is to determine the number of hours reasonably
spent by counsel for the party seeking the fees.” Ramos v. Lamm, 713 F.2d 546, 553 (10th Cir.
1983). “The district court must determine not just the actual hours expended by counsel, by
which of those hours were reasonably expended in the litigation.” Id. Although plaintiff’s
counsel “is not required to record in great detail how each minute of his time was expended,”
plaintiff’s counsel should at least “identify the general subject matter of his time expenditures.”
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 437 n.12. “When examining the adequacy of an attorney’s billing entries,
we are primarily concerned with the district court’s ability to evaluate the propriety of the fee
request based on the specific billing entries.” Flitton v. Primary Residential Mortg., Inc., 614
F.3d 1173, 1178 (10th Cir. 2010).
WJC argues that many of the time entries by Heideman & Associates are administrative
in nature and therefore should be excluded. WJC provides no support for its argument that fees
billed by legal assistants are not compensable. The 10th Circuit has made clear that services by
non-lawyers are compensable, subject to the same factors as time billed by attorneys. Case v.
Unified School Dist. No. 233, Johnson County, 157 F.3d 1243, 1249 (10th Cir. 1998). Mr. Jensen
may therefore seek reasonable fees for services billed by administrative professionals.
WJC also argues that Jensen has failed to demonstrate that the fees charged by members
of Heideman & Associates are reasonable, however, WJC does not specifically state which rates
it believes should be adjusted and by how much. After careful review of the billable rates, the
court determines that the rates charged by Heideman & Associates are reasonable and therefore
Finally, WJC also argues that billing entries for costs, such as for filing fees and process
service expenses are not proper in a motion for attorneys’ fees. WJC highlighted the billing
entries that it believed were improper. Mr. Jensen concedes that it should not recover the costs
for the filing fee ($350) and service of the summons ($55) through this motion. An award of
attorneys’ fees for the work completed by Heideman & Associates is therefore awarded in the
amount of $17,178.85.
(2) Attorneys’ Fees Relating to the Post-Trial Motions
After filing Mr. Jensen’s initial motion for attorneys’ fees WJC filed a renewed Rule
50(b) motion, and a motion for a new trial. Mr. Jensen seeks to supplement his request for
attorneys’ fees to include the post-trial briefing on these motions. Accordingly, Mr. Jensen seeks
to recover an additional $23,380 for his attorney April Hollingsworth’s work on the motions. The
amount Jensen seeks for the post-trial briefing calculates Ms. Hollingsworth’s billable rate at
$350 an hour. The court previously determined that a rate of $285 per billable hour was
reasonable for Ms. Hollingsworth’s legal services. Accordingly, Mr. Jensen may recover $19,038
for Ms. Hollingsworth’s post-trial briefing.
(3) Ms. Hollingsworth and Ms. Beaton’s Billable Rates
Jensen argues that the court improperly reduced Ms. Hollingsworth’s billable rate from
$350 to $285, and improperly reduced part of Ms. Beaton’s billable rate from $300 to $225. The
court explained in its previous order the reasons why these billable rates were adjusted and will
therefore not revisit whether these reductions were reasonable.
For the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Mr. Jensen’s motion to
supplement his award of attorneys’ fees is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. (Dkt. No.
409). Mr. Jensen is hereby awarded $17,178.85 for the work conducted by Heideman &
Associates, and is also awarded an additional $19,038 for Ms. Hollingsworth’s post-trial
Dated this 7th day of December, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
DALE A. KIMBALL,
United States District Judge
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